How to Clean a Bathroom Extractor Fan

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How to Clean a Bathroom Extractor Fan

If you live in a modern home or have a new bathroom, there's probably at least one extractor fan somewhere in your property. How to clean a bathroom extractor fan, and whether or not you're supposed to, might not always be obvious and this article will hopefully answer some of your questions. If you have no extractors, this article won't be much use to you but you should definitely consider adding them to at least your kitchen and bathroom as soon as possible. An extractor fan will draw water vapour away from your room, reducing condensation that can otherwise cause severe damage to your property over time. If you're looking to add an extractor fan to your bathroom, we can offer a vast range of different styles.

Why Clean Extractors?

For those readers who already own a bathroom extractor fan, it's easy to forget about them as they spin away in your bathroom ceiling or at the top of a wall. It's important to remember them though, as they require cleaning just as much as more obvious bathroom features such as drains. Extractor fans are designed for one purpose, to extract moisture and other dirty air from your bathroom but this means that they're constantly bombarded with dust, floating fibres and any other sort of airborne material such as insects. Despite the best efforts of manufacturers and constant improvements, it's inevitable that even the best extractor fans will eventually suffer a build up of dust and grime that impacts performance.

Extractor fans essentially act as vacuum cleaners built into your home and, just like any other vacuum, they need emptying and cleaning in order to function properly. It may take a while but eventually your fan's air intake is likely to become blocked, meaning it won't be able to extract properly, resulting in water vapour and dirty air circulating your bathroom. A fan that has become blocked will struggle to operate properly, consuming more power and creating more noise. This increase in bathroom moisture won't only affect your bathroom; once your walls or floor are damp, the issue can spread into adjacent rooms or through the floor to the ceiling below.

What You'll Need

To clean a fan, you will need:

  • A soft cloth or microfibre cloth to clean and one to dry
  • A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment
  • A small brush (such as a toothbrush)
  • Warm soapy water (washing up liquid is perfect)
  • A step ladder or sturdy stool (if the fan is mounted high)
  • Gloves, mask and eye protection (optional, but recommended)

Cleaning your fan is a relatively quick and simple process and will ensure that your extractor continues to reduce moisture and odours as intended, helping keep damp and mould at bay. It should only require about ten minutes of preparation work and ten minutes to clean the fan, though you might also need to make a trip to your local DIY store. You'll only need a few household cleaning products and possibly a screwdriver if the fan's cover is held in place with screws. Exactly what you require will vary from model to model but it's always worth preparing a bucket of soapy water (washing up liquid will do). Depending on your type of fan, you might require another cleaning fluid, for example if you need to clean chrome. You'll also want a sponge or cloth, as well as an additional cloth to dry the unit. Don't use a corrosive cleaner or scouring pad as they can scratch the surface of the fan, making it easier for for dirt and mould to attach itself.

Cotton wool buds can be used for more intricate cleaning. Not essential but definitely advised, it's worth covering your floor with a dust sheet or newspaper to prevent wasting extra time cleaning up afterwards. This also goes for your hair; it's always a good idea to wear a shower cap or an old hat while cleaning a ceiling fan, to avoid filling your hair with disgusting extractor fan dirt. It's also a good idea to wear a facemask if you haven't cleaned your fan before; mould can be extremely dangerous if inhaled, so it's worth the small investment to buy a mask from your local DIY shop.

Staying Safe

Before you do anything else, your first step should be to turn off the power supply to the fan. The vast majority of modern fans are very safe and many are designed to have their cover easily removed for cleaning but you should still switch your mains power off before sticking a screwdriver and a wet cloth into any unit connected to your electrical supply. Keep in mind that this is just a general guide for cleaning an extractor fan and that it's always worth consulting the instruction manual for your specific fan, if you have a copy, or checking their website if you can't find it.

Firstly, you need to remove the cover of the extractor fan. This should be straightforward; your cover likely either snaps into place or is secured by a screw or two (be sure to put the screws somewhere safe; a good tip is to attach them to some sticky tape for safekeeping). Once you've removed the cover, place it in your bucket of soapy water to soak, allowing time to break apart the more stubborn dirt. With the cover gone, it should be easy to take out the fan blade and wipe it with your cleaning solution, before using another damp cloth to clean away any residue, rinsing the vent cover in warm water and then leaving it to air dry. For the most part, it's best to leave the motor alone but you can use your cotton wool buds to delicately clear away any obvious lumps of dirt. You can also use a handheld vacuum cleaner to dislodge any stubborn bits of dirt in the ventilation pipe itself. Once you're satisfied that you've cleaned the fan to the best of your abilities, simply reassemble it and switch your electricity back on. If this is the first time you've cleaned your extractor, this process can take a while but, if you make sure to do it every couple of months, you shouldn't have to worry about significant dirt build up in future.

Is Everything Working as It Should? 

If you still feel as though your extractor fan isn't completely removing water vapour from the room, it might be a good idea to adjust the fan's timer. Your extractor fan is probably activated when your turn on your bathroom lights and remains on for some time after the lights are switched off. In small bathrooms, it shouldn't take long to clear the air but in larger rooms it can take between 10 and 15 minutes. You'll need to consult the specific instructions for your fan's timer module but it should be a straightforward process. Adjust the timer unit until your extractor fan thoroughly removes vapour. Here are some tips to consider:  

As with any changes, it's best to consult the instruction manuals before undertaking any tasks of this kind. Cleaning your fan is an essential task that should be performed regularly to ensure its longevity and efficient functioning. By following the simple steps outlined in this article, you can effectively clean your fan without having to call in a professional. Remember to take safety precautions and use the right tools to avoid damage to your fan or injury to yourself. With a little effort and some basic cleaning supplies, you can keep your fan running smoothly and working how it should. 

  • practical
  • explained
  • home hacks
  • cleaning tips
  • bathroom accessories
  • Technical Guides
  • bathroom
  • bathroom fan
  • extractor fan
  • Cleaning
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